Thousands of people are rallying behind Frank Swanson, a brain-damaged man who worked at a Walmart in West Plains, Missouri, who was fired last week.
Swanson is known in the community as an enthusiastic and friendly worker who loved to give customers hugs. He was fired from Walmart less than a month shy of his 20-year anniversary and loved to hug customers.
According to a spokesperson for Walmart:
“Letting an associate go is never easy. For this associate, point-of-sale policies had not been followed in some instances. A recent violation of those policies moved the associate to the final step of our discipline process, resulting in his dismissal.”
Swanson’s supporters, however, claim that he was fired because of his penchant for hugging, and are planning to stage a protest at the Walmart where he worked this weekend to show their support.
On the Facebook page “Hugs For Frank” over 1,500 people have committed to attending Saturday’s protest, with ver 3,000 people listing themselves as “interested.”
The page reads:
“Walmart has decided to fire Frank, the sweetest employee you’d ever meet, for hugging a costumer. So we’re going to gather at Walmart on Saturday April 9th with signs or t-shirts offering free hugs. Let’s do this for Frank.”
Swanson’s bosses at Walmart have said that his hugs were inappropriate, but according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that’s not why Frank Swanson was ultimately terminated. The Post-Dispatch reports that he was actually fired due to an instance of price matching. Swanson broke Walmart policy by discounting a jug of tea by 50 cents because a customer told him that a competitor was selling it for cheaper. Swanson took the customer at her word, rather than following store policy and asking her to show him a printed circular proving her claims.
Swanson’s sister, Babbi Marsh, has confirmed that her brother was let go due to his habit of excessive price matching.
“He never let anyone walk out without paying for their merchandise. What he was told was that he was being let go for excessive price matching,” March told the West Plains Daily Quill.
Swanson’s told KSPR TV that he suffered brain damage as the result of an accident when he was young that left him in a coma for six weeks and temporarily paralyzed.
The protest for Swanson will take place on Saturday outside of the West Plains Walmart.